Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Yeh Hai India, Meri Jaan

A friend asked me recently whether I want to live in India again, after studying and living abroad for a while. She’s lived in India only for a couple of years two years ago. She said that she’d believed that she could do it, that she wanted to do it, but when she came to India after two years this year, she realised that she really can’t. She said she just can’t deal with the chaos, the lack of respect for personal space, the problems you can face in just accomplishing a simple task such as getting a new phone number, the disregard for simple common sense or manners while driving, etc.

But for me, the shininess of Singapore gets old fast. Yes, there are tall buildings, and smooth roads, and air conditioning in every single building, and shiny new malls on every corner. There are rules that are followed; there is order in everything that’s done. There’s no need to think twice about being out any hour at night; there’s amazingly fun nightlife. I like the city, I enjoy studying there. But I can’t imagine living there permanently. And it’s not just because the entire country is just one city, or because I’d have to get a permit to protest against anything, or because the rules (even the silly ones) are followed because of the scarily excessive consequences.

I miss India when I’m in Singapore. Not just my friends and family, but the place. I miss the loud, muddled, dusty markets; the familiar looking people on the roads; the insane honking and driving; the casual chatting with shopkeepers; the delicious food. I miss my Rs. 10 golgappe, and paying Rs. 30 for an entire meal. I miss the way people manage to create order in complete chaos, and how sometimes chaos is just chaos.
Of course, the honking and the traffic fascination lasts for a week, then it becomes a constant cause for complaint. The loud, muddled, dusty markets don’t remain so lovable when I have to go out there in the Delhi heat. But somehow, there’s always more to like than to dislike. And I can’t imagine not living in India, and not calling it home.

What do you think?


Aishwarya said...

Surely this depends on what your experience of outside-India is? I agree that I'd hate to live in Singapore long term. Yet when I'm in England or Ireland the thought of leaving India for good is a lot more attractive. For all of the reasons your friend listed, particularly the lack of respect for personal space (or indeed for basic personhood). The shininess of the malls has nothing to do with your friend's complaints!

Sumedha said...

You're right, it does depend on what my experience living abroad is. A lot of people I know remain enamoured by the shininess of "abroad" and compare that to the un-shininess of India. The point I was trying to make was that I don't think I would like to live outside India anywhere. I loved the US, but long-term? I don't think so.